These 7 States Need to Lock Down Right Now, Harvard Researchers Say

High daily new case rates should have these states implementing new stay-at-home orders.

Let's start with the good news first: While the coronavirus pandemic is nowhere near over, the situation is improving in most of the hardest-hit states. In fact, there are only a handful of states where the number of new cases is currently on the rise. That having been said, the situation is still dire in places with widespread infection. Even if numbers are trending in the right direction, some states may need to lock down in order to slow the spread and save lives.

The Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) maintains a color-coded map of COVID risk across the country that has become a useful tool in visualizing which states are most in need of drastic action. States with 25 or more daily new cases per 100,000 people are colored red. "Once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again," the researchers explain. Based on their assessment, these are the seven states that should now be shutting down to contain their COVID outbreaks. And for more states that need aggressive measures in the near future, These 4 States Should Be Locking Down This Month, Researchers Say.


Nashville Tennessee TN Drone Skyline Aerial Panorama.

Of the HGHI's red states, Tennessee has the lowest daily new case rate: 26.2 cases per 100,000 people. That's still high enough, however, to consider locking down again. The infection rate of 0.91, as determined by Covid Act Now, is somewhat promising, but it does indicate that coronavirus is still spreading within the state. There have been almost 123,500 COVID cases in Tennessee, as of Aug. 13, and just under 1,275 deaths, The New York Times reports. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


skyline of shreveport louisiana

For a time, Louisiana had the worst daily new case rate nationally. Now, it falls behind five other states on this list, with a current rate of 26.6 daily new cases per 100,000 people. Thankfully, Louisiana's numbers appear to be falling all around: Covid Act Now gives it an infection rate of 0.88, which means "active cases are decreasing." The virus remains widespread enough, however, that another lockdown may be advisable. As of Aug. 13, The New York Times reports nearly 134,430 coronavirus cases in Louisiana and close to 4,360 deaths.


downtown coeur d'alene idaho

Though it's the least populous state on this list, Idaho has suffered from a serious ongoing COVID outbreak that has given it a high enough daily new case rate to put it in the HGHI's "red" category. The state is currently seeing 27.0 new cases per 100,000 people. Moreover, Covid Act Now reports a positive test rate of 16.6 percent, and a moderate but still-too-high infection rate of 0.98. To date, there have been 26,280 COVID cases in Idaho, according to The New York Times, with just over 250 deaths. And for another small state with big problems, This State Is Now Experiencing the Worst COVID Spike in the U.S.


birmingham alabama skyline at sunset

With 29.6 daily new cases per 100,000 people, Alabama is at a "tipping point," per the HGHI's assessment. Covid Act Now also puts Alabama in the "critical" category, thanks to the dangerously low number of ICU beds remaining, and a high positive test rate of 16.5 percent. The state has now seen nearly 104,800 coronavirus cases, according to The New York Times, along with more than 1,880 deaths. And for states experiencing their highest COVID surges since the pandemic began, These Two States Just Saw Their Worst Coronavirus Case Spikes Yet.


Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.

With 29.9 daily new cases per 100,000 people, Mississippi has the third highest daily new case rate per capita. Though one of the less discussed states on this list, Mississippi has been facing a severe COVID outbreak for some time. And unlike some of the other states, it is still seeing spikes in new cases and deaths. However, Mississippi's infection rate of 0.86 does indicate things are moving in the right direction, despite recent surges and a high positive test rate of 19.6 percent. Overall, Mississippi has seen around 69,375 coronavirus cases, along with close to 1,990 deaths from the virus, The New York Times reports. And for more on Mississippi, check out These Two States Are Becoming the Worst COVID Hotspots in the U.S.


Florida skyline with palm trees and buildings

Florida has long been considered one of the epicenters of the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., and even though its numbers have shown signs of improvement, the daily new case rate of 30.3 cases per 100,000 people is still the second-highest in the country. Florida also has a high positive test rate (17.2 percent) and severely limited ICU capacity, according to Covid Act Now. As of Aug. 13, there have been close to 550,900 coronavirus cases in Florida, resulting in around 8,765 deaths. And for more states with a staggering number of cases, These 5 States Account for Nearly Half of the Nation's COVID Cases.


Downtown skyline of Columbus Georgia on as the sun is nearly setting

The latest HGHI numbers give Georgia the highest daily new case rate in the country: 33.8 cases per 100,000 people. That's well above the threshold for stay-at-home orders, according to the researchers' assessment. Georgia's positive test rate of 10.7 percent is lower than many of the preceding states', but the infection rate of 0.99 means that COVID is still spreading, albeit slowly. There have now been almost 209,700 coronavirus cases in Georgia and 4,360 deaths.

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